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Photo Essay: Hell Hike and Raft

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Cover image: The team completes the climb to the view the Tower of Babel and Mirror Lake in the notorious Hell Hike and Raft. This was the first of big moment for this Epic crew of adventures on this Epic Social Adventures trek. All images: Scott Gauvin

This was the second year in a row I had tackled the adventure called "Hell Hike and Raft." Which means I knew what I was in for: six days of backpacking and white water rafting  through Hells Canyon in beautiful northern Idaho. 

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Last year when I completed the hand over hand climb at the beginning of day one of our backpacking journey, I was spent. This year, with a new sense of determination, familiarity and comfort, I enjoyed the climb and felt unbelievably strong upon reaching the prize at the top... the sight of the Tower of Babel. The tower is the sixth tallest of the Seven Devils in the Seven Devils range located in the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho. 

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This is one of my favorite spots on both treks. A ledge lookout where I saw and pondered the vast beautiful wild before me. For stretches it was just my friends and me on this trip in this beautiful landscape. Too often, are crowded by other people and rushing around. I always take time during treks like this to feel small and let the wild slow me down. Notice my awesome Oboz BDry's that got me through both trips.

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Atop of Dry Diggins at the lookout tower looking back towards the marvelous Seven Devils. With Day 2 of hiking nearing completion, we stood at 7,800 feet atop of the deepest river gorge in North America.I have hiked this trek before knew what lay ahead, as we would have to meet the rafts 6,500 feet below us.

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A definite sense of accomplishment for all as the hike to Dry Diggins is quite strenuous. For those of that took a dip at the base of the mountain prior, we were already dry. The wind and heat  at this elevation was quite worrisome given the next four days of the trek would be heading to the river and then on the rafts. It was awesome to experience this place and this vastness with two totally different yet equally epic and dedicated adventurers. 

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After a 6,500 foot descent in eight hours in the blistering heat... the shade of the Hells Canyon walls provided us all much comfort. Once we descended to the river our hike was over. Collectively we all transitioned from hiking boots and socks to water shoes, from worry about water to worrying about the sunscreen. Over the course of the next three days as we rode the Class III & IV rapids the temperatures would like to 107 degrees in the canyon as fires blazed in Oregon and northeastern Idaho sending a regular mist of smoke to our north as we paddled toward our take out. 

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This was the first true expedition that I was able to try out my new Tenstile Connect. Stars on a clear night in the canyon laying in my tree tent were simply unreal. Shooting stars, planets and the vividness and vastness of the sky kept me awake for hours.

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Sustenance is always necessary on a trip like this but the calorie burn of day 3 is very intense given the workload and terrain covered. Americas Rafting Company always comes through with amazing meals, but one meal is devoured more so then the rest. River chicken, green beans with bacon, potatoes and cornbread. 

Scott Gauvin blogs at @hikingforward and is also the Executive Director of Gear Forward 

At the heart of everything we do are the folks who make the magic happen. A group of likeminded footwear-industry vets who left our big-brand jobs back in 2007 intent on doing business a better way. 

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